Sunday, 22 November 2009


I'm so sorry for the lack of updates, life has been completely tied up with moving my elderly and disabled mum from her home of 25 years in London into a warden assisted retirement flat closer to us.

Long time coming and it's taken months of preparation, there have been some seriously upsetting moments and scary bits along the way - particularly this week!!!! But she's in, she's settling there and seems reasonably happy which is a better result than I dared dream of. Huge thanks must go to Superhubby who has supported me above and beyond the call of duty..much love!!

So on to the star of the show, the wonderful, amazing, lovely Little B..what have we been up to???

Well we've still kept up with our inhand work in the school and had a few lunging, loose and long lining sessions. Usually short ones due to the rather waterlogged state of the school *rolleyes*
Bally has been working beautifully, we're now geting half halts on voice command, no lary is work and play is play, so rewarding!!
I'd also had Bessie Horsebus serviced and MOT'd so when I had the opportunity I'd actually been able to practice loading and standing on with the engine running which was almost an anticlimax as B paid no attention at all and just loaded and stood on no differently to normal lol!

But today was a special day in all sorts of ways!

Firstly we had our first Becky Holden lesson - I wasn't 100% sure I was getting the close inhand work 100% correct as B found this the hardest part of out training to do, so as she was coming down to do a clinic locally I snaffled her for a lesson ;-)

Becky is brilliant, a true master at classical in hand work, but so lovely to be around too - She stayed over last night and together with my dressage instructor and friend Becky Ewart we had a great evening talking dressage, horses and dogs!

I knew that she used to work for Peggy Litton at Asoka Classical stud...who bred Bally's Mum Maravilha!!..and yes she not only knew her well, but her grand dam also!!! It was fascinating to hear about the history of her lineage.

So onto the lesson - Becky wanted to see how I was working her and what we could do, so I showed her our inhand stuff...great news is I just needed a few gaps filling in - my body positioning and contact are spot on (chuffed!!) I needed a little help on correction work - so that if B becomes at all heavy I give a lift with my inside hand to raise her poll and at the same time take the outside rein and give a "leg" aid with the whip. I'd tended to give her a little too much leeway as I was concerned about being heavy on her mouth, but with a clear "up" aid the pressure is actually taken off her bars and tongue and works only on the corners of her mouth..lightbulb moment!

We had some amazingly soft work - just like riding when you get the correct flow of energy from back to front on a soft relaxed contact it just flows and feels great. Lots of lovely stretches interspersed with good work and quickly feeling when to correct her if she was silly or tried to lean and make me support her meant a very worthwhile session - made all the more amazing by the fact that B had never worked first thing in the morning before and was having to concentrate when she could hear all the horses being turned out. Clever B!

I then drove over to Becky E's yard where Becky H helped her with Ambar & George - fabulous to watch and so very, very useful!

Back home and I roped Gi in to take the last small but all important step in the box training of Little B.....going for a journey!!

She loaded as she always does, slowly, carefully and at her own pace, then with the box running Gi did the gates and popped the ramp up. I stayed on with Bally for reassurance and to keep a close eye on her reaction....and there wasn't one!!! She had a little wobble and moved her feet to balance as we set off around the farm, but she kept completely calm throughout the five minute journey, alert and looking around her but no hint of panic, or tap dancing.

Once we'd stopped she unloaded (still backwards) and when I asked her to step back on the ramp did so!

I was almost in tears I was so happy - all that patience and calm methodical training paid off :-)

Happy Day!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thank goodness for the Lovely B

I have had a horrendous day, tensions at work have got so bad three of us would quite happily have walked out today....some idiots should never ever be allowed to manage people }-(

I also had the most ridiculously upsetting call from a researcher on behalf of Rossdales vet hospital who wanted to ask me some questions as Safi had received spinal xrays there.
Researcher "Could you spare some time to answer a few questions?"
Moi "Um, yes that should be OK"
"So could you update me on how your horse is now"
" she's been PTS"
"Oh yes, well looking at the report and seeing the xrays I was expecting you'd say that"
"...stunned silence......"
"So you don't want to answer any questions then?"


I got home and there in the post was a cheque from the insurers for the loss of Safi, I had actually thought that it being such a bad day I couldn't feel any worse, but wow that was a proper knife in the guts......I know it is ridiculous but I felt like Judas receiving my thirty pieces of silver.

So after some wailing and weeping I went to see the delightful Bailarina for some equine therapy. That lovely sleek little diamond you saw pictures of a few weeks ago is now a proper hairy, muddy, filthy beastie! Bless her she knew straight away I was feeling down. She glued her nose to my back as I walked around and poo picked the paddock, no naughty nibbling, just a touch and a connection the whole way up the field...such a precious feeling

I brought her in and took her into the school for a play, just a single line and her headcollar, some raised poles and a mini pheasant feeder jump, no pressure, not really 'work' just a play in walk. Thinking exercise, obedience, stretching and most of all relaxing and enjoying

B was her usual fun, inquisitive self. After a walk round with circles and changes of rein to warm up I asked her to walk over the raised poles...our first approach was met with incredulity by B who wasn't sure she could raise and lower her legs in the gaps provided...I led the way and she merrily followed, daintily making sure she didn't touch a single one.

We popped over them a few times each way and B very kindly followed exactly what the text books say, stretched her neck down and out and lifted those legs to have a lovely whole back and shoulder workout!!

We had a bit more wandering / circle / straight work and then I led her over to the 12" high mini pheasant feeder jump...."oh my LORD" went B with a snort Lol!

She tried to duck out to the side so I just walked her back and then up to it again. Bally very bravely took her life in her hands and popped straight over it second time of asking and received loads of praise

We had a few goes playing over it and after only a couple I could ask her to walk over (oh look at those leg lifts!!) or trot and pop it as a jump, what a good girl!

I let her off the rein after this so she could have a free wander about as I cleared our playground away and then we wandered back to the stable and tucked her up for the night as none of the ponies were out tonight.

A brush down..well more of a scrape off, tea and bed...

Bally just makes me smile.....therapy indeed x

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

So - About last night...

In the grand scheme of things it wasn't much, just a 1/2 hour single line lunging session in the school, but Bally's work ethic, her intelligence and willingness to try her socks off for me just makes me feel so humbled and privileged to have such a special little mare in my life

We did our usual in hand walk around the school to warm up, making sure B is with me, attentive and watching for cues and relaxed enough to be able to pay attention.

Then it was on to walk work, starting with 10 metres circles and then back to going down the long side - all it takes now is for me to change the way I hold my lunge whip and B changes from straight to circle and back again - she just does it...seamlessly, effortlessly...Wow!
We worked at this on both reins and she's just so much better and settled, The idea that walk means walk and listen, stop when I say stop has taken root.

Then I introduced some poles - a set at walk distance and a raised set for trot - now this wasn't quite so perfect - despite the fact that she's been over through and round them a couple of times Bally took one look at the walk poles and said (quite politely lol) "No thank you!" So I just led her in hand over the first time, praised like mad and then popped her on a 10m circle to work it out herself. She needed the support of me framing the circle or she would do the first two and cut across towards me, so we worked on keeping her softly bent out on the circle and by go four she'd got it like a pro!

I then asked for freer and forwards at trot on a 20m circle to loosen her out, then for the first time I started asking for a verbal half halt - a "steady" cue to slow, relax and rebalance then straight on into working trot again - She just did it absolutely foot perfectly - I was stunned!! :-o

Back to the little walk / pole circle on the right rein and she did it with no hesitation, but still needed me to remind her to stay straight throughout the circle and then on to the large circle for the trot lunge work with half halts, walk and halt transitions, all done with no fuss whatsoever
* Yay *

I wanted to work on the trot poles next and this was just asking for B a short repeat of the same thing we'd done with the walk poles, but keeping a steady rhythm and stretching her neck and back over the three poles. Yet again she wanted my support to keep the circle, but after one uh-oh legs everywhere whizz over them I was able to ask her to steady, concentrate and step really well over them on both reins a couple of times - as if she'd been doing this for years :-)

Loads of praise and scratches - what a brilliant effort!

I let Baby B off to wander, relax and warm down whilst I put the poles away, then we just had a lovely sociable wander round the school together and then back up to the yard

So there you go, we aren't talking Grand Prix superstar dressage, just basic, nursery school stuff, but after only a few sessions Bailarina is working like a horse who has been doing this for years - she is just a joy to work with and it is so rewarding to see my efforts pay off!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Catching up on progress

Well Friday was hack out on the long lines day and B was great..still a bit nervy going down the road, but before that we were just going down the drive to get onto it when I heard the sound of something very large and agricultural approaching, we carried on and then suddenly I realised it was Chris in his huge crop spraying thing..and he was turning and coming up the drive! Hmm ok let B see what it was and then we nice and calmly walked up the drive with the Big Yellow chunterer behind us, stopped by the field gate and I turned her so she could see, well she didn't bat an eye, even when it rumbled past!!

So back off down the drive and onto the road and like I said she was a bit tense (had the horrors about some discarded flowers in a bush would you believe!!) but not too silly. No problems with two cars passing us from behind.

Once on the bridleway it was long lines time and B was just great, nicely forward, one teeny plant at passing the first footbridge, but no attempts to turn back and walked on past it nice and smartly when I asked her to. No issues at all about spooky fact she walked up to and around it like she'd never dreamed of having an issue with it!!

Saturday was box training time, and Bally stood totally calmly right next to the ramp as we dropped it, but was quite hesitant about going on, even with the clicker - I know that it's never going to be her favourite thing, but she wasn't impressed with the proceedings - maybe we need to push things on as she just isn't seeing the point of climbing onto the shaky box just to get off it to ponder!

Anyway once on and standing tied, it was gates shut and ramp up with no problems. I then asked Gi to walk round and open the grooms door and the walk through, all done with a small snort but no panic *phew* I then popped through into the little living bit and on and off the box a few times. B was just great - a bit nonplussed I think!
After ten minutes of hanging around it was everything undone and backing off, went for a little walk round and then asked her to pop back on. Again she didn't exactly throw herself up the ramp, but she was on in about five minutes of me just standing and rewarding forward movement from her. It's quite funny - once she touches the ramp with a back foot that's it she's straight on with no messing, but it takes her a while to think about getting that far lol!

Tied her up , got off and did the gates and left her to stand again. Little Princess was not overly amused by this and had a couple of scrapes at the floor to which she got a growl! She settled herself down and after another five minutes I led her off. Really pleased with her progress!

Well Bessie the Horsebus is in at the mechanics tomorrow for her MOT, service and a new battery so all being well (touch wood!) we'll be starting the starting so to speak...repeating all the work we've done so far but with the addition of the engine running...then it's trip time -eek!

I'm going to post about tonight's session tomorrow - I was stunned, absolutely astounded at the quality of the work she gave me in the school and I think that it deserves a post of it's own :-)

Till tomorrow then....